Monday, February 27, 2006

Dink & Dunk: Wonderlic Edition

While rumors are being started and denied about Vince Young's Wonderlic test performance, the House Rock Built wants to come clean with our own sketchy history on the test. Believe it or not, it's not a very easy ordeal, especially when you're under duress. The last time we took the test, the results were less than impressive.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Wonder Kids

Thanks to our sources at the NFL office, we obtained this bootleg copy of Vince Young's Wonderlic Test. Tough break for big Vince only scoring six points, especially since a couple of these questions were probably right within his grasp. Remember, many good rebel spies lost their lives for this information, yadda yadda yadda. Enjoy.

Me Fail English? That's Unpossible!

Vince Young has saved us from the off-season doldrums with what is likely the most fascinating and easiest-to-parody news of the year. Young wowed scouts and fans alike by scoring a nearly-unprecedented six points on his Wonderlic Test.

Just to bring everyone up to speed, the Wonderlic is a 50-question test that is used to measure an individuals general cognitive aptitude, sort of a quick and dirty IQ test to size up potential employees. If you're interested in seeing what it looks like, ESPN nabbed the sample test from the Wonderlic site and has it available here.

For those of you keeping score at home, the approximate conversion for Wonderlic-to-IQ-score is this (source):

IQ = 100 + (W-20)*2

I'll go ahead and do the math for you (since God only knows what the mean Wolderlic score of college football blog readers is...), and Vince's 6 equates to an IQ of 72. Those of you who watched Forrest Gump last night on ABC like myself will remember the scene where little Forrest can't get into school because his IQ of 75 falls below the minimum cut-off.

As our editors scramble to pull some strings and obtain an exclusive copy of Vince's Wonderlic test (should be faxed over tonight, fingers crossed...), let's all have a laugh and keep this in perspective. It's just an IQ test, and you can take our word for it that having an exceptional intelligence quotient in no way enhances one's opportunity to obtain sleazy groupie sex, admiration from peers, or success in professional sports. Remember that next time you get the brilliant idea to bring a Rubik's Cube to a job interview.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Dink & Dunk: Job Search Edition

Our friends in Ann Arbor have had some interesting upheaval in their assistant coaching ranks, injecting some fresh blood into the system. Lloyd Carr wrapped up his staff by snagging two top-flight coaches and upgrading Ron English to Defensive Coordinator. While everything seems to have worked out well for Michigan, we have first-hand information that shows the interview process was less than smooth sailing. We think they chose wisely.

(click for comic strip)

Friday, February 17, 2006

Three Minutes: Act I

If it's too painful to relive, feel free to skip this post. We understand. Trust me, making this was maddening agony.   -Ed.

Play One

1st and 10, ball on Notre Dame 13, 5:04 Remaining

The first round of the chess match. Pete Carroll comes out with what appears to be a very conservative defense, with a Dime Package (6 DB's, 1 LB, 4 DL) and three DB's playing so deep that they aren't even visible on the TV screen. However, Pete has a trick up his sleeve. During the snap count, the cornerbacks pinch almost to the line of scrimmage, showing blitz. When the ball is snapped, both corners blitz off the edge, but the two middle DT's fake their blocks and drop back into coverage. It's a Zone CB blitz, but with the two tackles dropping back as "robbers" to try to take advantage of a hastily thrown pass over the middle.

This is a pretty gutsy call by Carroll, as it leaves the defense pretty vulnerable to a variety of different plays. The three deep men are so far back that they really can't have any impact on the intermediate passing game, and you can see that on the left side, there is one cornerback covering two receivers. With the CB on the right side blitzing, that entire half of the field belongs to the safety who is about ten yards downfield. Any number of quick pass routes are good for ten yards against this defense, but with the three deep safeties, there's little risk anyone will break free much further than that.

It looks like Carroll was anticipating a deep pass on first down, which isn't a terribly bad guess considering Weis' playcalling. If Weis was trying to stretch the field and take a risk on first down, the corner blitz would be very effective in forcing Quinn to get rid of the ball quickly, hopefully somewhere a robber could make a play on it.

Instead, Weis calls a quick slant play, feasting on the weakness in the defense. Walker goes in motion out to the right, and as the playclock winds down, the two cornerbacks creep up to the line, giving away their blitz. Quinn takes a second to assess this and checks over to his left, where Samardzija and Stovall are matched up against one corner. After a three step drop, Quinn fires one to Samardzija (the slot receiver) in stride, before the slow-moving robbers can move into position. Catching the ball in the large hole in the defense, Shark slices upfield for 18 yards before the entire SC defense converges on him.

Play Two

1st and 10, ball on Notre Dame 31, 4:45 Remaining

Personnel changes on both sides here. Weis pulls a tight end out in favor of a third wide receiver, and Carroll responds by lining up in a nickel coverage (since I can't make out numbers on the film, it's difficult to tell exactly what personnel is out there, but I'm assuming there were five DB's out there). Carroll decides to change the gameplan and calls for a monster blitz, sending the entire front six in after Quinn. The big pressure leaves everyone else in man-to-man coverage, with the strong side safety on the tight end and the free safety in a Cover 1.

The play actually works for USC -- a miscue in blocking up front leaves Center John Sullivan blocking air while Darius Walker is stuck having to fend off two linebackers with full heads of steam. Fasano cuts his route and runs across the vacated center of the field, but Quinn is forced to run to his left to avoid the pressure from the blitz, and being right-handed would have had to flip the ball over his head to get it to his wide-open tight end.

With Quinn being chased down by the USC front, it looks like he has to chuck the ball into the stands to evade the sack. But right when Quinn hits the sideline, Cornerback Ryan Ting makes a critical mistake and, for one second, becomes a spectator. Ting freezes and stares into the backfield to see what happens and loses track of Jeff Samardzija, who spins and takes a few quick strides downfield. As Brady gets demolished, he flips the ball over the head of Ting and into the arms of Samardzija, who scoots downfield for a big gain.

While the play was disrupted by the blitz, Quinn and Samardzija both thought quickly and improvised to turn it into a huge gain.

Play Three

1st and 10, ball on Notre Dame 45, 4:39 Remaining

Carroll stays in the nickel but goes into a more vanilla scheme, only rushing the front four. Again, the offense is set to attack the middle of the field, with the outside receiver running a deep route to stretch the right side. Quinn yells to get Samardzija's attention and flips him onto the right side of the field.

It looks like the linebackers are guarding the center of the field to prevent another quick slant. However, they both take one stride to the right side of the field at the snap, probably reacting to Darius Walker coming out of the backfield. That one misstep is all Maurice Stovall needs, and he darts into the vacated space on a slant and catches a perfect Quinn pass in stride. He sprints into the heart of the zone for another big gain.

Play Four

1st and 10, ball on USC 40, 4:11 Remaining

If I'm not mistaken, Pete Carroll really pulled something out of his sleeve here, rolling out a bizarre defensive formation which appears to be a 3-3-5 stack, much like the unusual formation that BYU employs. After being abused in the center of the field the last three plays, USC moves nine defenders to the middle of the field, trying to do whatever it takes to force Notre Dame to change their playcalling.

In spite of this crazy alignment, Weis sticks with the slant, in fact sending all five eligible receivers to the center of the field, attacking the linebackers. With five bodies swarming to the center of the field and three defenders covering across the area, Quinn has time to stand and find the best spot to deliver his pass. Seeing Fasano cutting in front of the middle linebacker, Quinn delivers a bullet to his tight end, who takes a shot but hangs on for six yards.

And just like that, the Irish have driven 53 yards. Defensively, Carroll threw everything he had at Notre Dame, using three different formations and a completely different rush package each down, plus a mix of zone and man coverage. It didn't matter, though, because Weis countered every single new defense with quick-hitting passes that found open space.

Three Minutes of 2005 - Preamble

It was a beautiful, sunny fall day when the opening kickoff was sent tumbling skyward, but the sun had long since receded below the horizon. It was night now, and the hallowed ground of the house Rockne built was illuminated only by the stadium's lights. 80,000 bewildered, hoarse, and by this time almost completely sobered-up fans stared nervously at the field as the Irish special teams unit trotted out to field the ball for what likely would be their last possession of the game. Standing next to me in section 6, the Irish Outisder caught my nervous gaze.

"It makes sense. We need to score 31, it's the only way."

He was right. In Notre Dame's last two victories against the #1 team in the country, they had put up that exact number of points. And here we stood, five minutes left in the game, down 28-24, with one last chance to score a touchdown to reach the mythical 31.

Ambrose Wooden, a cornerback I never remember seeing returning kicks, fields the ball six yards deep in the end zone with his momentum carring him backward. He hesitates, then brings it out, only to be swallowed up by a wall of Southern Call defenders just outside of the 10 yard line. 87 yards from the goal line, things are suddenly looking bleak.

And that's how the stage was set for the greatest three minutes of Notre Dame football I have seen in my (admittedly short) adult life. 5:04 on the clock. 87 yards from the end zone, trailing the back-to-back defending national champions and media-proclaimed "greatest team in history" by four. And just for good measure, add in two Heisman trophy winners in their backfield and one of the best rivalries in college football.

Charlie Weis, the prodigious play-caller and offensive mastermind. Pete Carroll, the widely-respected defensive genius-turned-best head coach in college football. Ball spotted, whistle blown. The chess match begins.

It took eight plays - four passes followed by four runs - and three minutes for the Irish to drive the length of the field and punch it in for the go-ahead touchdown. Watching Weis put together that drive was like watching a Renaissance master paint or a symphonist playing his instrument: the intricate beauty of a master perfecting his craft.

While the end result was spoiled due to a string of highly improbable and sloppy plays strung together, I still think that this drive deserves some commemoration for the fantastic spectacle that it was. In the next two posts, I will go play-by-play through this drive, starting with the four consecutive pass plays, followed by the four runs to cap off the drive.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Stanford Tree Gunned Down in Gangland-Style Execution

Police interview witnesses at the crime scene.
BERKELEY - Police are still searching for leads in the sudden and tragic death of one of collegiate athletics' most beloved mascots, the Stanford Tree. The tree was discovered by security personnel in the visitors' locker room shortly after halftime of a Stanford-Cal basketball match. The guards were sent to look for the mascot after it failed to appear with the rest of the band following the intermission. Reports detailed a grisly crime scene, with the tree lying face down in "an almost impossibly large pool of syrupy sap."

The officer on the scene stated that "foul play was unquestionably involved here."

"I've seen my fair share of crime scenes in my 25 years on the force, but this one sticks out. This had personal written all over it."

Charlie Weis could not be reached for comment.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Great American Mascot Hunt: Illinois

In an effort to educate and enlighten our readership and kill some time during this torturous pre-spring-practices offseason, The House Rock Built is loading up the Winnebago and going on a coast-to-coast mascot-hunting expedition. With each pit stop, we'll scour the cityscapes and desolate farmland for the most amusingly-bemonikered football teams and hopefully blow past the border before the cops get us. The rules are pretty simple: any organized football team is eligible, provided they have a zany, off-beat, or (preferably) dirty nickname. The schools can come from the college ranks, the high school level, or even any of the numerous semi-pro and big-league squads.

If any of you readers happen to hail from any of the towns mentioned or, better yet, are a proud alumnus, please shoot an e-mail to HRB and share any stories or wisdom about the mascot, and feel free to drop a line in the comments as well. Also, if you have suggestions for schools to add to the national tour, send them on over.

Today we salute Illinois, a proud and genteel state situated in America's Heartland. Illinois is a land of great diversity: a jaunt across this state could start in The House Rock Built's chief editorial suite in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of Chicago, where the constant flow of alcohol into yuppies and tourists is periodically interrupted by the deafening ruminations of prostitutes assailing their respective pimps and the overpowering stench of a seemingly endless river of bum urine. But take the Wagon Queen Family Truckster an hour or two down the interstate and you'll find sprawling corn fields dotted with whitebread, shotgun-wielding rednecks and their overdeveloped jailbait farmgirl daughters.

A state of such diversity has an appropriately diverse catalog of obscure football mascots, although many of them seem to revolve around Illinoisians' contentious relationship with livestock and produce. Our first stop is in the sleepy hamlet of Hoopeston, located conveniently between nowhere and butt-lovin' Egypt.

Hoopeston Area High School Corn Jerkers
Hoopeston, IL
  • Nickname: Corn Jerkers.
  • Probably Refers To: A common ritual among rural Illinois teens to stave off those lonely summer nights. The corn industry is the heart and soul of the Illinois economy, so it's only right to periodically return the favor.
  • Bonus Points For: MS Paint logo, adding a new insult to my vocabulary, anthropomorphic vegetation.
  • Team's 2005 Record: No info on website for '05, but the team went a dismal 0-8 in the '04 campaign. Perhaps they folded the program.

Cobden High School Appleknockers
Cobden, IL
  • Nickname: Appleknockers.
  • Probably Refers To: Another school that celebrates senseless man-on-vegetation violence. Either that, or a reference to the sudden blossoming of those corn-fed Cobden cheerleaders.
  • Bonus Points For: MS Paint logo, dirty double entendre.
  • Team's 2005 Record: No information available.

Blackburn College Battlin' Beavers
Carlinville, IL
  • Nickname: Battlin' Beavers.
  • Probably Refers To: Your choice: a fuzzy woodland creature in full battle armor (for you Chronicles of Narnia lovers out there), or the name of that video that I accidentally left in the VCR, resulting in an embarassing situation during my movie date.
  • Bonus Points For: Quadruple Alliteration.
  • Team's 2005 Record: A disappointing 2-8 season in the brutal Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. They need to get whipped into shape or else they'll get licked every time.

Well, you've been good to us, Illinois. But those sirens in the rear-view are telling us it's high time to find a new state to spread our madness. Tips and suggestions are welcome for our next stop. Who knows, it could be your home town! And if it is, we might need to crash on your couch until the heat dies down.

Great Googly Moogly: Belt Buckle Edition

The House Rock Built opened its doors yesterday to a gent from San Antonio, who came across the website while performing a Google search for a Vince Young Belt Buckle. While I don't think there are any stores selling those these days, I think I can help you. Since you were a pal and checked out the site, you can go ahead and have mine.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

You Bunch of Lemmings

Even more allegations are abounding about the misdeeds of recruiting guru Tom Lemming. While some have blown off Myron Rolle's statements of collusion as standard signing-day piffle, perhaps we need to take a closer look at Lemming's somewhat perverse interest in promoting Notre Dame to line his pockets with that tasty Irish-fan cash.

(click for comic)

My Favorite Video Game Ever

I'm not sure how everyone else has been coping with this offseason, but I've certainly found a lot of consolation in my brand-spanking-new copy of EA Sports' NCAA Drumline '06.

Bring it on, Bitches!

Listen, they're not paying me to say this... but Drumline 06 is the greatest video game of all time, ever. I just got it a week ago and I'm already on year 8 of my Dynasty. I've racked up half a dozen national championships and four number one recruiting classes. Sure, the first four years were on "Band Camp" difficulty level, then I upped it to "Varsity", but that all bores me now. The only way it's a challenge anymore is if I play on "Grammy" level. Yeah, I'm a madman.

So the class of 2016 is a pretty critical one, what with losing my 99-overall clarinet player to graduation, and my Sousaphone player blew off his final year of eligibility to go on tour with Aerosmith.

It ain't rebuilding, it's reloading

I'd go on and on about the enhanced graphics from Drumline 05, the awesome dual-analog gameplay, the Impact Piccolo camera, and the Band Director contracts, but really the game speaks for itself. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the game. I'm outta here, the Rose Bowl awaits. The Irish Outsider thinks his high-powered xylophone attack is unstoppable, but I'm about to serve him a plate of steaming crow. It's going to be a bastard what with my five-star tuba player going down during pregame with an Index Finger Contusion (2-4 Weeks), but ain't no excuses in drumline, peeps.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The House Rock Built Swimsuit Issue

Well, it's February, and with the passing of Letter of Intent day and the Super Bowl, there's not a whole lot going on in the sports world for the next few weeks. While some sportswriters struggle to fill their columns with any material, others sit back and relax while their publication rolls out the Swimsuit Issue. The House Rock built proudly presents their first annual Swimsuit Issue in hopes that it will help our readers alleviate with their college football jones, if just for a brief moment.

The First Annual House Rock Built Swimsuit Issue!

Blue Plaid Maternity Swimsuit, by Japanese Weekend. $15.99

Women's 3MM Realm Shorty Wetsuit (B78). $129.00

Big & Tell Men's Spiderman Swim Trunks, currently unavailable.

Speedo Basic Brief Banana Hammock, $32.00

Whew! Hope you enjoyed this year's Swimsuit Issue! We'll be back next week with actual sports content.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

D&D: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

There's been a lot of hullaballoo about Joe Montana's conspicuous absence from the Super Bowl, and frankly it's getting ridiculous. It seems like the angry mobs are demanding an explanation for why he wasn't there despite his deep lifetime obligation to the NFL blah blah blah. In the absence of any definite excuse from the Comeback Kid, some rumors have popped up that JoeMo can't cook without the dough, and that he wouldn't do the dance without a pocketfull of straight cash, homey. It seems much more likely that either he just didn't want to do it or he was suspicious that the invitors had ulterior motives for his visit. All three explanations are equally plausible, we'll let you decide.

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Great Moments in Vandals History

Everyone's favorite prison-warden-acting-as-football coach Dennis Erickson has pulled a Rodney Dangerfield and decided to go Back to School, giving up the sweet life of contract-buyout-induced retirement and strapping on a whistle at his old stomping grounds in Moscow, signing up to coach for the Vandals of the University of Idaho. Undoubtedly, the landing of a high-profile coach on the frozen tundra of central eastern northwestish Idaho has sparked joy for Vandals lovers worldwide. Indeed, February 8, 2006 will long be remembered as a watershed day for Vandals, which is impressive considering how many great days there have been in their storied past. Here's a quick recap of Great Moments in Vandals History

  • 455 BC: Under the savage rule of King Genseric the Lame, the Vandals seize upon and sack Rome.
  • 415 BC: Socrates and some friends get completely rocked on Ouzo and stagger around the Athenian streets, hurling profanities at sniveling lady-boy eunuchs and systematically clubbing the penises off of every piece of statuary in the city.

    Original Gangsta.

  • June 2, 1799: Jean-Luc Veljean, a low-ranking grunt in Napoleon's army, gets a little carried away while playing a game of "Baguette Cannon Skeet Shoot" and clips off the schnozz of a priceless monument, the Great Sphinx of Giza.

    Mais, non, mon ami. Zut alors!

  • May 5, 1994: Michael Peter Fay... uh, well you know the story. Too soon to joke about?

  • February 20, 1997: Tragedy strikes the Arthur Burkhardt expressway at mile 114, when four lanes instantaneously and without warning shrink into two lanes, causing a miles-long backup and snarling traffic for days. Police are still seeking this man for questioning:

    Cosmo, you silly bastard.

Pleased to Meet You, Hope You Guess My Name

The House Rock Built has a few friends we'd like to introduce you to. That's right, our faithful contributors Dink & Dunk have made the great leap to the celluloid screen, spinning off into comic strip form. Once a week, you'll be treated to a dazzling audiovisual multimedia presentation chronicling their latest misadventures in college football fandom. Their debut strip is here

(click thumbnail for comic)

In an effort to eliminate any need for clunky exposition, here's a quick bio for your two main characters, so as you may get properly acquainted:

Wink Dinkins

  • Alumni Status: Notre Dame, Class of '04, Keenan Hall
  • Fan Since: Birth, possibly even prenatally.
  • Jersey Is a Tribute To: Technically, it's a Matt LoVecchio jersey, going by the date it was purchased. Let's all agree to believe it's a Brady Quinn jersey.
  • Drink of Choice: Gin & Tonic.

Buck Dunkowitz

  • Alumni Status: University of Southern California, Class of '03.
  • Fan Since: Just recently found out that USC has a team.
  • Jersey Is a Tribute To: Reggie Bush, I guess. Too bad he's a huge sellout.
  • Drink of Choice: White Russian.

Put them together in a room, add alcohol, college football, and the occasional dead hooker, and you've got solid comedic gold. So watch for Dink & Dunk every Monday, or you can check the blog directly or subscribe to the XML feed.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Two Exciting Things About Sunday

1.) Those goddamn lunatics have done it! Five fucking blades!

The prophecy has come to fruition. The end of days are nigh.

2.) I now know what a "Code Black" is.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Don't Drive Angry

Well, the groundhog saw his shadow today, so that means a mediocre year for all schools with rodents as their mascots. Bad news for fans of Minnesota (Gopher), Oregon State (Beaver), and Marshall (Thundering Herd of Capybaras)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

You Crazy Brits!

A dapper chap from Woking, Bracknell Forest, England fired up Google on his computer (or inter-telly or whatever they call it over there) with a very specific and unusual hankering for eskimo pudding. While the good guv'na probably didn't get what he was looking for during his visit to the House, hopefully he was enlightened on the ins and outs of American Footie en route to the Professional Eskimo Pudding-Wrestling League website.

Cheerio, mate!

Is It In You?

Captain Eclectic, the House Rock Built's house council and trusted consiglieri, pointed out an interesting fact about this year's recruiting haul while he was bailing me out of the clink for yet another [alleged] DUI. Charlie Weis reminded everyone during today's press conference that this year's class includes an unbelievable nine Gatorade Players of the Year for their home state. For those of you keeping track at home, Weis earned himself a record-setting 143 Electoral Votes this morning. The green states are the ones we're calling for Notre Dame:

Gatorade POY
Electoral Votes
New York

Eric Olsen, OL

Sam Young, OL

Demetrius Jones, QB

Morrice Richardson, LB

Barry Gallup, WR

Luke Schmidt, FB

Munir Prince, RB

Matt Carufel, OL

Jashaad Gaines, S

Honorable mention to Joe Paterno and Pete Carroll, the only two coaches who managed to land a pair of Gatorade Players of the Year. Paterno takes home 34 electoral votes (Pennsylvania - 21, Virginia - 13) and Carroll takes up the rear with 26 electorates (New Jersey - 15, Washington - 11).

Just one more interesting stat: Of the GPOY's who have signed Letters of Intent to play Division 1 ball, 42% of them went to school in-state (I counted Idaho's Cody Hawkins as in-state, since he's going to Boulder with his old man). As we saw with the epic Mitch Mustain saga, there is an overwhelming pressure on these prized prospects to stay in-state, which makes Weis' pilfering of star recruits from some of the juiciest football territories that much more impressive. We'll do some more analysis in the upcoming days, but tonight we're just celebrating. Slainte!